Evidence shows that factors contributing to success in physiology education for allied health students at universities include not only their high school achievement and background but also factors such as confidence with their teachers and quality of their learning experience, justifying intensive and continued survey of students' perceptions of their learning experience. Here we report data covering a 3-yr period in a physiology subject that has been redesigned for blended and online presentation. Consistent with previous reports, we show that when we undertook a blended mode of delivery, students demonstrated better grades than traditional modes of teaching; however the absence of didactic teaching in this subject resulted in lower grades overall. Students have very strong positive attitudes to weekly quizzes (80% positive approval) but report ambivalent attitudes to online self-directed learning (61% negative perception), even though they had 2-h weekly facilitated workshops. Overwhelmingly, students who undertook the subject in a self-directed online learning mode requested more face-to-face-teaching (70% of comments). From these data, we suggest that there is a quantifiable benefit to didactic teaching in the blended teaching mode that is not reproduced in online self-directed learning, even when face-to-face guided inquiry-based learning is embedded in the subject.